At this late stage of the Christmas horror phenomenon, simply making a slasher movie with an axe-wielding Santa Claus probably isn’t enough. This Norwegian movie has a setting with a lot of potential – an always-dark, snowbound township in the far North, where the killer Claus is adding the star to the top of his decorated Christmas Tree of crime scenes superimposed on the map of the country – and some atmosphere, but its premise is too basic, its characters (too many of them) too formulaic, its pace too leaden and its squelching gore too familiar.
The killer (Jorgen Langhelle) has a long naughty list and has been spending years ticking off grown-ups who’ve been bad and got away with it, before being shot in the head by tough cop Rasch (Stig Henrik Hoff, off the last version of The Thing) at the end of the prologue. Years later, Michael Myers-like, ‘Juleblod’ breaks out of the non-secure hospital and gets on with his seasonal antics – which are carried out with grim ponderousness, though he attempts sight gags like leaving a severed head on top of a snowman or stringing up a victim with fairy lights. The Silent Night Deadly Night franchise exhausted this avenue some decades ago, and Christmas Blood – which is even a generic title – doesn’t have much to add.
Julia (Marte Saeteren) is glum since the suicide of her guilt-ridden mother, who was next on the maniac’s list – and has been visited by a range of her Norwegian-Australian-Swedish gal pals whose attempts to cheer her up are sabotaged by a tendency to act bitchy, squabble, invite over unsuitable guys, and wander off to shove their faces against the edge of the axe. Rasch does a beardy Dr Loomis and hooks up with a cleancut new policeman (Sondre Krogtoft Larsen) to track the madman, not helped at all by the lackadaisiacal local cops. The girls partying goes on an awful long time, and no one acts in a consistent or likeable manner – but their deaths aren’t especially interesting either, though the beery would-be rapist who gets thunked in the back of the skull probably scores the best demise. Written and directed by Reinart Kiil.